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Statement from ASU President Michael M. Crow on legal actions in support of international students

July 13, 2020

Following last week’s announcement by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security of changes to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) that would require international students not attending in-person higher education courses to return to their home country, Arizona State University immediately voiced opposition. We believe this directive runs contrary to our nation’s ideals and our institutional commitments to enhancing access to education and global engagement. For those reasons and in support of international learners at ASU and around the world, we have initiated the following actions:

  1. ASU is one of approximately 60 amici in the MIT/Harvard lawsuit that was filed in federal district court in Massachusetts.
  2. We are one of 20 plaintiffs – western schools in California, Utah and Arizona -- in the lawsuit that was filed Monday, July 13 in federal district court in Oregon. 
  3. ASU is one of 180 signatories to the amicus brief that the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration has already filed in the MIT/Harvard lawsuit.  
  4. ASU responded to an Association of Public Land-Grant Universities request that we join a letter to House and Senate leadership that calls on Congress to urge the Department of Homeland Security to withdraw the new guidance and restore institutional flexibility to support international students during the pandemic.  

At Arizona State, we have implemented a hybrid, digitally enhanced immersion program called ASU Sync that will leave our international students unaffected by this proposed rule.  That does not alter our opposition to it and our view that it is illogical, short-sighted and ill-advised public policy.

ASU is home to more than 10,000 degree seeking international students and is a top school of choice among international learners. Nationally, more than one million international students choose to attend American colleges and universities, paying a premium tuition price for the privilege, and contributing their valuable knowledge, drive and diverse perspectives with our university communities.

Upon earning their degrees, many of these undergraduate and graduate students become the innovators, doctors, engineers, artists, scholars and dreamers that help to fuel American progress and prosperity to levels that distinguish our country and create meaningful and tangible improvements to every facet of American life.

There is no actual indicator, no measurement of economic change that says that international students and college graduate immigrants weaken the American economy in any way, or eliminate or reduce opportunity for Americans. None. 

The present effort to remove these talented, skilled and generous individuals from America’s economic and cultural landscape is a thoughtless and deeply misguided mistake, and ASU will vehemently oppose any effort to do so.